Monday, 1 July 2013

How to write a quick and effective design document part 1


Hi guys, its been a while.
I thought it was about time that I wrote something that may help interactive media students with there study as that was the purpose of this blog.

I myself like writing but I have come to understand that not all art students like writing at all, so I have decided to write a guide on how to write a quick and effective design document, so you can get it out of the way and crack on with the fun part (making) which is what all artists love, am I right?

Last time I wrote about concept and planning I wrote a list of 5 things, with reference to real life experience. This time I am going to make it more relevant to the design student.

Also this will be quite educational for myself as I plan to break it down to aid my own design work as I find myself waffling on in my own design documents. I am going to break it down into simple terms.

Here goes..
How to write a quick and effective design document
A design document is one of the most important parts of a project as it helps you define exactly what it is you are going to do. It will save you time in the long run as it will help you for see any future problems that could set you back days in a project.
One thing to remember is what audience the design document is for, who is going to read it?
In industry the design document is a way for you to communicate to your team/boss
  •  exactly what your design decisions are  
  • why they are good decisions.
At college/university it will serve the purpose of helping yourself or your peers in a team project plan out a project so you can organize your time effectively. It will also show your lecturer the decisions you have made and what has influenced you to make those decisions.
Step One - The Brief
 I have seen fellow students write a time schedule before reading the brief. Even I myself have done this. WHAT! read the brief before you do anything else. I cannot emphasize this enough.
You cannot plan anything until you know exactly what it is that you are going to do. There may be instances where the brief is vague or you have to write your own brief, or that there isn't a brief at all.
If there isn't a brief write one . If its vague, write it out properly. It will save you hours or days in the long run.
One aspect of a good design is that it fulfils the requirements of the brief. All of the decisions that you make in the project will be directly linked to the requirements of the brief.
 To write a good design document you need to clearly explain your intentions.
Do this now, write a few paragraphs explaining what you are going to do and why. Your plans for research, reference,  potential ways of modelling.  etc. everything you need to do to fulfil the brief. 
Step Two - The time schedule
Now you know exactly what you are going to do, it is absolutely essential to plan your time effectively. To do this you need to consider:
  • Duration of the project - from start to finish. how long have you got whens the deadline?
  • Tasks. what things do you need to do in order to complete the project? research concept. modelling. texturing.
  • Time. how long is each task going to take you to complete? even if you do not know exactly, it is a good idea to roughly plan exactly how much time you can spend on each task and stick to it. remember to make allowances for things going wrong, software crashes, illness that kind of thing.
  • Other projects  One thing to consider that may be overlooked especially for students is do you have anything else going on at the time of the project? If you are a student chances are that this project wont be the only project you are working on. If you have another project or projects put those in the schedule too.
Step Three - Research
You know what you have to do, but do you know what you want to do? As a student there is so much room in a project for creative freedom.
For example, the brief said you had to make a building and the style had to be photo real.  You need to conduct research in order to make specific decisions for the style and design of the project.
So you have to make a building? what kind of building? what colours will you use, how will you make it,
Every aspect of the design needs to be justified, There must be at least one very good reason why any decision is made.  If you find you cannot justify your decisions then they need to be re assessed and written about.
Decision - Reason - documentation

I will return with part two at a later date, this part will include concept art (yay!)

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